“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”-Rumi
Growing up, I always dreamed of becoming the next Zadie Smith, but I never felt like words came naturally to me. Crafting the perfect sentence would take me hours and my perfectionist tendencies hindered me, causing me to question my abilities. In high school, college, and even at the start of my career, my friends, professors, and coworkers were my motivators always applauding me on my ability to sew words together and encouraging me to pursue it. I was an avid writer in my previous job as a legal assistant and every writing assignment felt like a fun jigsaw puzzle I would have to solve. My love for words sparked into something unimaginable. My passion kept growing and I knew I had all the pieces to make it work, all I needed was just a little push…
And I got it when I read “The Crossroads of Should and Must” written by Elle Luna, a talented and inspirational painter. Her book inspires you to be and do anything and challenges you to be daring in rewriting your story by finding and following your true passion.
As someone who has always struggled with decision-making and embarking the road less traveled towards a more creative path, I was deeply moved by Elle’s overpowering desire to swim through risk, take chances, and trust herself to be bold and go against the norm. She left her financially secure job to pursue an unpredictable career in painting, with no promises in sight.
In her book, she touches on the concept of the Should and the Must. To break it down: —
“Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us. Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure, and at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently…When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.”
Must, on the other hand, “…is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self…It’s our convictions, our passions, our deepest held urges and desires—unavoidable, undeniable, and inexplicable. Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own—and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals.”
Uuumph. So real and so right and so relevant always. These quotes speak to my soul every time!
Let’s tune in and ask what the internal spark within ourselves is— the passion that ignites a glowing fire in our soul and is too powerful to contain. We sometimes find ourselves feeling confined in the Shoulds, being told that we should settle for that secretary job because it makes sense financially or that we should stay in the same city and not move to New York because it’s risky and unsafe, but that sounds restricting, right?
The definition of flourish is “to grow or develop in a healthy and vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.” We bloom when we are living out our real calling - or that thing lingering over us that we can’t put on hold any longer. When we feel so deeply empowered and uplifted by our craft, we create a favorable environment because we connect with other dream seekers who have the same interests and fuel us further. And this is why it’s important to keep our passion alive, whether on the side or as a full-time job. Because If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking to improve yourself, better your attitude, and take any opportunity to grow and welcome change. Personal growth only happens when you stretch yourself to the moon and back and enjoy the unexpected twists and turns of the ride.
We, as women, are called to flourish as influential leaders, entrepreneurs, mothers, sisters, caregivers, and passionate activists that create lasting change and awareness in this world.
If we are truly meant to flourish and grow and thrive, we can’t live in a world of Should’s.
That’s not enough. We are too bold and daring and caring to get cozy in the Should. We carry prominent power and possess some of the most influential ideas that deserve to be put out in the world because we are capable of so much!
Valor thrives in the MUST— pushing us towards that passion that is bigger than life. It encourages us to submit that essay we’ve been slaving away over for hours to a reputable magazine and start our own business even when everyone tries to sway us into believing it’s an awful idea. Must isn’t superficial, it’s real and raw and comes from our core. It’s what we thrive on and how we cultivate our strengths and skills as doers and go-getters. They keep us unique and push us to live without fear of failure. This is how we encourage, inspire, and create community.
Being creative takes serious passion, drive, and courage. Everyone that has ever embarked a creative journey can agree that it’s challenging and requires a mastery of innovative skills and ideas.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
There’s usually a negative connotation that if one person hasn’t done something, it can’t be done at all. But prove yourself wrong, prove them wrong and be the positive force you need to keep going. Study the people you look up to in your field, I bet you’ll learn a thing or two. I promise you that the beginning of everyone’s story starts with struggle and fear of the unknown. You are not alone.